My freshman year of college, some of my peers and I received some advice from an upperclassman. He said that if we were planning on getting an internship in the summer, we should look for a small business. His reasoning was that at a smaller business you are more likely to do larger things, and after my experiences the last two summers, I could not agree more.
I have worked for Virginia Amateur Sports for the last two summers. VAS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that has four fulltime employees. VAS runs the Virginia Commonwealth Games, an event that is much like the Olympics, complete with an opening ceremony and an Olympic torch. The Commonwealth Games features 60 sports and hosts about 10,000 athletes. The games have an estimated 4 million dollars of economic impact on the state of Virginia each year. Like I said, a small business with a large impact.
While at VAS, I have never gone on a coffee run for my boss, I have not been a copy person, I didn’t sort the mail every day. I call my boss by her first name and I call her boss by his first name. If I ever need anything, I can text them after work hours. I have run the company’s social media accounts for different time periods. This includes the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. I have designed billboards, countless flyers, entire programs, created ads for Google, managed onsite registration at events by myself, worked with the marketing department on sponsorship fulfillment, helped manage the online registration we use for almost all of our events and countless other things. I have met so many people, including two Olympic Gold Medalists: Dot Richardson (softball) and Dick Fosbury (track and field).
These experiences are priceless, and they are experiences I would not have had at a large business if I was just going on coffee runs and answering phones. I went into my first year with VAS not knowing one thing about event planning, but thanks to everyone at VAS, I have learned so much about not only small business, but also non-profits. It has been a wonderful experience. I would encourage anyone who is looking for a summer internship next year to consider a small business, especially if they are just a rising sophomore or junior. You will get to do things that have a real impact on the business that you are working for. You will learn more than you could have ever imagined. You will make connections with people in specialized fields. There are so many things that I got to do that I would not of had the opportunity to do if I was at a large company. My experience at this small business “in today’s schematics has been priceless,” as the VAS president would say.
If you want more information on the Virginia Commonwealth Games or the VAS internship program visit http://commonwealthgames.org/